Clorox Green Works: What were they thinking?

Are corporations people? I’ll leave that for legal scholars to decide.

Are corporations funny? Uh, almost never.

Today’s evidence comes in a breathtakingly dumb digital ad campaign from Clorox Green Works. It runs the risk of  insulting the consumers of its environmentally-friendly cleaning products while managing to ridicule millions of people who are trying to be more conscious about the social and environmental impacts of the things they buy.

Worse, it’s not even funny.

See for yourself, if you can bear it.

Now, I’ll admit that deep green consumers can be extreme. I’m recalling, right about now, the menu of a 100% organic vegan restaurant called Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz where dishes had silly names like “I am Fulfilled” and “I am Open Hearted.” The food turned out to be fantastic.

But Clorox, instead of guiding people through a confusing landscape of sustainability claims, here chooses to caricatures conscious consumers as people who reuse dental floss, who say things like “I can’t believe you’re wearing leather,” who ask irritating questions about the provenance of their fish and who go ga-ga over “local, gluten-free, bio-dynamic, Fair Trade, dolphin-safe, edible” hair conditioner.

I honestly don’t understand what Green Works is trying to do, and reading the press release accompanying this marketing campaign only confused me further. [click to continue…]

Coffee, direct from farm to cup

Purveyors of food that’s said to be better for us or for the planet deploy a  growing number of adjectives – organic, Fair Trade, sustainable, local, natural, vegetarian, humane, low-carbon, small-scale or slow– to sell their wares.

Here’s another: Farmer-owned.

Being farmer-owned is the unique selling proposition of the Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, a company owned by more than 100,000 coffee farmers who have formed co-ops in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico. They have been selling their organic, Fair Trade beans to customers in the U.S. through select retail outlets  since 2006. Now, in a twist, and with hopes of expanding their business, they are selling directly to consumers through a website called

CSAs — the initials stand for community-supported agriculture — have been spreading like wildflowers in recent years. Typically, consumers contract directly with a nearby farmer to buy a weekly assortment of fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat or other farm goods, usually for a fixed fee, in return for which they get a share of the harvest, depending on what’s in season at any given time. [click to continue…]

Honest Tea CEO: Small isn’t beautiful

Seth Goldman, the president and Tea-e-0 of Honest Tea, made it official today:. The Coca-Cola Co. will exercise its option to buy all of Honest Tea, the Bethesda, Md., maker of organic, healthy beverages.

Coke bought 40% of the firm for a reported $43 million in 2008, a controversial move at the time for the upstart company that positioned itself as a challenger to the conventional way of doing business in the beverage industry.

Seth broke the news in a letter to his shareholders last night, in a blog post this morning and in an interview today with me at the State of Green Business Forum 2011 in Washington, arguing that his mission to “democratize organics” will be supported by Coke..

In an unusual twist to the deal–one that amounts to a vote of confidence in Seth’s leadership–Coca-Cola will allow him to repurchase most of his own equity stake in the company. His name will remain on the bottle, along with that of his co-founder, Yale prof Barry Nalebuff, and the company will continue to operate out of its offices in downtown Bethesda, a short bike ride away from Seth’s home. [Disclosure: I’ve known Seth for years and we attend synagogue together.]

“This is absolutely still my baby,” he said. [click to continue…]